The Madras High Court has allowed the Tamil Nadu government to erect banners from the Chennai airport to Mamallapuram, nearly 60km away, to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders will hold bilateral talks in the tourist town on October 11 and 12.
Giving its green signal to erect the flex boards on the 60km stretch, a division bench comprising Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice N Seshasayee said the permission was not really required since it had only restrained political parties from putting up hoardings, and not the government.
The DMK had opposed the government plea, alleging that there was a ‘hidden agenda’ and the possibility that the ruling AIADMK wants to “erect many banners”.
The petition, filed by the commissioner of municipal administration on behalf of the government, had stated that authorities were not giving permission for banners throughout the state after the court had come down heavily on the hoarding culture, after the death of a 23-year-old software engineer last month.
The petition, however, argued that it was customary on the part of the Ministry of External Affairs to welcome a visiting dignitary by way of banners.
Stating that the state and the central governments proposed to put up the banners at designated places to welcome the top dignitaries, the petition had asked the court to pass suitable orders on the proposal.
The Madras HC had earlier banned erection of hoardings on roadsides and recently slammed the government for not effectively implementing its order in the wake of the death of the woman techie.
The 23-year-old woman was riding a two-wheeler when an illegal hoarding fell on her and she was run over by a tanker from behind. The death had led to outrage in Chennai, prompting political parties to ask their respective cadre to stop erecting hoardings and banners.
After the incident, the Madras HC had directed the Tamil Nadu government and Chennai municipal corporation to take disciplinary action against officials who failed to take cognisance of the illegally put up flex board that fell and led to the woman’s death.
The court had also asked the state government to submit a report mentioning steps to eradicate banner culture and actions taken in the particular incident.